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Local News

JJC officials expect City Center building work begins June

Funding for downtown building’s interior will come from other capital projects

Joliet Junior College's City Center campus is seen. The exterior was finished last year; JJC trustees hope to see work begin in June on the building's interior.
Joliet Junior College's City Center campus is seen. The exterior was finished last year; JJC trustees hope to see work begin in June on the building's interior.

JOLIET – Joliet Junior College trustees hope to see work begin in June on the interior of the downtown City Center campus project, with an estimated completion date in one year. 

Trustees approved a measure in April to use money earmarked for other capital projects to go toward the interior work of the building after they learned state officials placed $10 million in funding for the project under review.

Capital project money for other community colleges also was suspended.

JJC Board Chairman Andy Mihelich said the college always had internal pools of money to start and complete the building, which will house the adult education and literacy departments, along with workforce development and the culinary arts program.

“We didn’t want to be in the position of starting a project and not being able to finish it,” he said.

He said he hopes the college eventually will be reimbursed by the state whenever the money becomes available.

The $10 million placed under review was out of $25.5 million in state funding promised for the project. Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly had said Rauner ordered a review of all state spending and that funding for JJC’s City Center project would be frozen pending that review.

Mihelich said college officials have contacted state legislators about the suspended funding.

“We wish the state had money,” he said. “We recognize they don’t; and this, unfortunately, is part of a longer term. But we have not lost a penny in any state obligations to date, so I think we’ve done very good.”

State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, one of the legislators the community college has contacted, said JJC has “played by the rules,” and he hopes the review is finished soon.

Not only will the project benefit students, but it also will help revitalize the downtown area of the state’s fourth-largest city, McGuire said.

JJC Trustee Robert Wunderlich said the community college “always had a Plan B” for funding the City Center project if state funding didn’t come through.

He said after talking with state lawmakers, the board is confident it will receive support because Rauner has supported community colleges in the past.

Mihelich and Wunderlich said they didn’t know which projects would see funding moved for the City Center project. JJC spokeswoman Kelly Rohder said Friday those projects were for classroom renovations, as well as computer and technology upgrades. 

Wunderlich said bids for the center’s interior work came in about a month ago and the college would be reimbursed by the state, but the state Capital Development Board will have to review all bids. 

Wunderlich hopes the review will be complete in the next several weeks and the college will have authority to release the bids and start the project. Exterior work on the building was completed last year

He said he believes the building may be complete for fall of 2016, but that was a rough estimate.

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